Richie Santa is a singer/Elvis Tribute Artist, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and now lives in Staten Island, NY only twelve miles from where he initially grew up.
Being exposed to Elvis at the early age of eight, Richie was instantly a fan! As the oldest of three boys, Richie would share his love for music and Elvis with his brother Robert, who is also an entertainer. Trying to sing and move like the KING became an everyday occurrence in the Santa household.
Richie's career started with a band called Neighborhood Jukebox. The jukebox was an oldies band and some highlights included opening up for Roy Orbison and singing live on the Don K. Reed Do Wop-Shop Radio show on CBS's 101.1 FM.
Richie also sang the title track to a short-lived TV show called FAST FORWARD.
It was around that time that a friend and then unknown comic from Brooklyn named "Andrew Dice Clay" had gotten his big break and asked Richie and his band to back him up at such venues as PHILI SPECTRUM, LA FORUM, NASSAU COLISEUM, etc.. Richie also got the chance to meet many stars along the way such as Jerry Lewis, Danny Aiello, Arnold Swartzenager and Rodney Dangerfield Etc...
The highlight to touring with Andrew Dice Clay came when the movie DICE RULES was filmed at MADISON SQUARE GARDEN. Richie still remains good friends with Andrew and on occasion will still perform with him.
Performing thousands of shows, Richie has covered many different artists such as Frank Sinatra, Frankie Vali, Andrea Bocelli, Journey, Aerosmith, AC DC, Al Green, Michael Buble, Bon Jovi, and the list goes on and on. Although covering this artist are enjoyable and great in their own right, Know one has influenced him like the "KING"
Elvis is the reason Richie became an entertainer and WHY he is still going strong today! The last 10 years have been exciting as Richie has been pursuing his career as a Tribute Artist. Being the same height and weight as Elvis in his prime makes his show a more believable experience. Then add the power of Richie's voice and the transformation is complete.
Richie has performed over 600 shows as an Elvis Tribute Artist focusing on the Vegas concert years. Most of these shows have been private affairs, but just 8 years ago Richie decided to get more involved. Richie was part of Elvis Fest at the Hilton in Las Vegas. Soon after that Richie was off to Memphis for Elvis week. While in Memphis he performed at the Cedar Hotel and at Graceland Plaza and also competed in IMAGES OF THE KING where he made it to the finals. Since then Richie competed in the Pocono Mountains, Lake George, and New Hampshire etc..
Richie can be seen in the movie NERVE and has been a guest on Geri Petito show on Hamilton radio numerous times. Other Hamilton radio shows Richie's been on are Dj Dani show, the wisecracking show with Dave Weiskopf and The Round Table show with John Brecko. He's also made an appearance on Ava's casual chat cable tv show, the Colleen Kavanaugh Podcast and
Tom Hogan host of " Music By Family and Friends " Cape May radio.
Blastzone Mike's Facebook Live show
The Love and respect Richie has for Elvis is evident in all his performances!
Anyone who knows about Elvis knows how much he cared about his career and how much he loved his fans and treated them with kindness patience and respect.
Being a personable person by nature, Richie truly enjoys all the fans he has met along the way to celebrate the KINGs music. There will never be another Elvis Presley. He lit the torch, but as long as his fans enjoy and support all the ETA's, then Richie will continue to perform his show with the passion and the commitment to the greatest entertainer ever to grace a stage!
Abbreviated list of Venues
Malt Shop Cruise
Tangerine community center Florida
The Long Island Club Florida
Becall Rec center Florida
Eisenhower Rec center Florida
Mulberry Rec center Florida
Mount Dora theater Florida
Lake Miona CC Florida
Elvis Remembered Club Florida
Studio 53 Florida
Zellwood CC Florida
City Fire Florida
Plaza Grand community New Jersey
The Villages Community New Jersey
Fairway Mews Community New Jersey
Strand Theater New Jersey
Four Seasons community New Jersey
Sonata Bay Clubhouse New Jersey
Pugillos Restaurant New Jersey
Barrow Civic Theater PA
Puglia's of Hester Staten Island NY
Casa Verdi restaurant Staten Island NY
Grand Plaza Hall Staten Island NY
Z-two Restaurant Staten Island NY
Graceland Plaza Memphis
Cannon Center Memphis
Daisy Theater Memphis
Mulcahys Long Island NY
Westbury Country Club Long Island NY
Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Hogansburg, NY
World Resort Casino Queens NY
Metropolitan Room NYC
Ryman Auditorium Nashville
Opry Mills Mall Nashville
The mystique makes the man
September 2, 2012
By Frank Perri
Frank Perri is a keyboardist and arranger with a range of live performance, recording and arranging credits which reads like a who’s who of ‘been there and done it!’ If we mention that Frank has arranged for and led the Duke Ellington Orchestra, has guest conducted the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra, is musical director of ‘Break The Floor Productions’, one of the world’s preeminent dance entertainment companies, AND has appeared in the US TV show “Pan Am” on ABC Television, you can see we’re not exaggerating.
Frank’s father still asks, “When is he giving up this music garbage and getting a real job?”
Or woman, as it were, but you get the point. Perhaps I should fill you in so you know where I’m coming from. Or maybe I shouldn’t. That would be apropos to the subject at hand wouldn’t it? Ok, I jest.
I was at home when the phone rang. Upon answering I heard, “Hey, are you available in August? I have a gig for you…” Oh how those words make me tingle! After checking my calendar I let the other party know I was indeed around. Then came the last thing I ever expected to hear; “Good, I need a keyboard player for a backing band for an Elvis impersonator.”
I raised an eyebrow in interest and curled a lip in respect. This was going to be a good one.
Amazing that the one thing I hadn’t done yet at that point in my career was back an Elvis impersonator, which after a lifetime working in the entertainment business struck me as odd. Regardless, I felt a twinge of excitement knowing I could now cross this off my bucket list. I quickly inquired if I was to be paid with a check or a velvet painting and scribbled down the details.
Fast forward past learning the songs, writing charts and the rehearsals – which by the way, I had forgotten how great some of those songs and arrangements really were so as a nice aside, it was great to be reminded – but jumping ahead to game day; The band is on stage ready for the downbeat of “That’s Alright, Mama”. The signal is given and we launch into the opening.
And then there he is.
I look up, and in front of me it’s Elvis, or rather, a very good facsimile of Elvis. I had done rehearsals with Elvis but nothing had prepared me for this. In full beadwork, painting a multicolored kaleidoscope across a blinding white jumpsuit with a colored scarf and a guitar, he’s reborn; risen from beyond the gates of Graceland, ready to prove us all wrong about the exaggerated reports of his death.
Ok, maybe I’m a little dramatic but you get the point. It was rather hard not to imagine it was not Elvis. He had the demeanor, the movement, the swagger. He had the ornate hand beaded jumpsuit, the guitar and the scarves. Oh, how he had the scarves! He had them in dozens and dozens in a plethora of colors in a bag next to the kick drum. But there he was, reborn and on stage. I caught myself being swept up by it a little bit. But I realized I wasn’t alone. By the middle of the first song, the area we were playing in was packed. People, like mice drawn by the sounds of their pied piper, Elvis. It quickly became packed. Then people started dancing. Up, out of their seats and in the aisles and with each other. Then I saw something I’ll never forget.
A woman approached the stage while Elvis was whipping his guitar around. Without missing a beat, Elvis kneeled down, took his scarf off, put it around the woman and kissed her on the cheek. She gave him a big hug with a look on her face that easily brought her back 45 years to her high school days.
Elvis turned around with a knowing look and marched back to the drum kit and pulled out another scarf and put it around his neck. No sooner did he make his way forward before another woman charged at the stage, arms outstretched, reaching for the carefree days of her youth or quite possibly the chance she never had in real life. Again, Elvis kneeled and placed his brightly pigmented silk treasure around the woman’s neck with a kiss.
All night this went on throughout the whole set. Woman after woman approached the stage, and each one of them left with a kiss and a scarf. Not a single woman left out. Some women cheered out loud. Most hugged and kissed Elvis back. I saw one women in tears as Elvis circled her neck in color. It hit me at that moment – for all intents and purposes, this Elvis the band was backing was indeed the real Elvis to these women. These women were all more than willing to suspend disbelief so they could reach back through the decades and relive their youth. I wasn’t used to seeing this response from an audience but clearly Elvis was as we finished the gig with scarves to spare. He came well stocked.
It was even hard for me somewhat to not get swept away as I noted earlier. I had rehearsed with our Elvis and was well aware who he was and what a normal person he was. He came to rehearsals in jeans and a shirt like the rest of us. Except for the hair. He always had the hair. And it was fabulous! Glorious sideburns leading up to a giant swept back and perfectly coiffed ebony pompadour. If my hair was as glorious I wouldn’t be so preoccupied with putting so much gel in it and brushing it forward in an attempt to grow my hairline forward another inch.
But on stage, it was different. I found myself enjoying the fantasy. I had even remarked to the guitarist that this gig, outdoors in a huge tent similar to an American southern church revival tent, with crushing humidity and insects incessantly biting us while we played, how this gig almost felt like what it might have been like for the real Elvis’ band, on a gig early in his career as they toured the south.
On the drive back from the gig, I pondered what had happened the night before. I marveled at the mere fact the mystique of Elvis was so huge, so magnanimous, that it transcended his death and was transferred to our impersonator for the duration of the show. The life force of Elvis, like energy, could not be created or destroyed but only transformed, from one impersonator to another for the time they are on stage.
Imagine that for a minute; that the charisma of an entertainer was so strong that even the people who impersonate him can get the same reaction out of fans that he did. It’s an amazing thing to see happen in front of you. I wondered what could cause such a thing. Was it the mystery surrounding the man? Was it the tales of his generosity? Was it the mystique?
I chose to focus on the mystique.
Client / Fan Feedback
I was recently interviewed by Colleen Kavanaugh. A truly special woman. Below is the link to my interview. Give it a listen and leave a comment.
Good morning, Richie
I was lucky to see your great tribute at City Fire in Brownwood in The Villages.
I am a fellow New Yawker (my accent) and have retired to Leesburg, Fl. Of course, I NEVER wanted to leave New Yawk but we could no longer afford to stay and be able to sustain our lives. I miss the excitement, the diversity of people and, of course, the great entertainment and venues for music, art, and drama.
I enjoyed the honor you gave The King. I'd like to share that I was in grade school when Elvis released Blue Hawaii and saw the movie with my classmates. I've been in love ever since.
I've been honored to see so many great artists, but, my regret is I never saw Elvis. Thanks for bringing him back into my heart.
I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated you singing "Wonder of You" to me at the Pocono Elvis Fest. It made me feel so good. I wish you all the best in your career. I will be going to the festival again in October and hope to see your again. All the tribute artists I met there were so nice but you hold a special place in my heart.
Once again, thank you so much.
Your polished, professional, high energy show was an unprecedented smash hit! This is the first time I have ever seen our residents give anyone a standing ovation! The impact you had on our audience was amazing. Because you looked, dressed, and sounded exactly like Elvis we felt we were in the presence of The King himself and became swept up in the magic he created in audiences. You possess that rare ability that Elvis had to connect with an audience's heart. For the hour you were with us, we felt we were with Him. Thank you, thank you, thank you for an outstanding performance! You were barely out the door when people were saying they wanted to have you back. Looking forward to planning a return engagement with you!
Very enjoyable show in Ridley today. I've seen many Elvis tribute artists, and you were one of the best I've seen. I took my nephew who is 15, and he loved the show. We were sitting on a bench to the side of the stage. Trying to introduce him to Elvis and his music for many years now, so glad he went to the show, and he took some good pictures too. Hope you come back to this area again, and thanks for keeping the "King's" memory alive.